BRATTLEBORO—Deborah Stanford and Lana Dever have been elected as the first persons of color to serve as directors on the Windham Southeast School District school board.
The district includes all public schools within Guilford, Brattleboro, Dummerston, and Putney.
Voters in the March 1 annual election from all four towns selected one representative each for Brattleboro, Dummerston, and Guilford. All school board members represent the four towns equally, and all voters from each of the four towns voted on each seat.
Stanford, of Dummerston, was elected with 1,450 votes, taking a three-year seat on the board after vying with David Wheeler, who received 446 votes.
Though his name was still on the ballot, Wheeler dropped out of the race several weeks before the election and said he would decline to be seated if elected.
Although she has been attending school board meetings for some time, Stanford said Tuesday that she was looking forward to her first meeting as an elected representative that evening.
“That’s kind of exciting as a newly elected director,” she said, adding that she is “really quite honored to be part of this process.”
Since the election, Stanford said, she has been busy “working to familiarize myself with procedures, committees, and, of course, Robert’s Rules of Order. The hard work continues for everyone.”
Dever ran against Peter “Fish” Case for the three-year Brattleboro seat, winning with 1,254 votes to Case’s 1,121.
Right after the election she posted on social Media, thanking Case “for being the best opponent a candidate could wish for.”
“You are a powerful voice in our community and it was my honor to stand beside you yesterday,” she said, addressing Case. “ The laughter and warmth emulating from you kept me warm yesterday at the polls and will be ever-present as I begin my work on the School Board.”
Case was equally generous in congratulating Dever, calling her “one solid human being and worthy of holding the position she earned yesterday. She has my full support.”
Case also noted the roughly 100-vote margin that separated the two in the election.
“A slim margin, to say the least, so thank you to all that supported me and voted for me in this first venture into the ‘official’ political arena,” he said, encouraging everyone “to run for something.”
“A contested race is the only way we get a real say, and it doesn’t have to be contentious, it can just be about options,” Case said. “I may have lost this race, but I gained a good friend in Lana, and that’s a win for me.”
“I am humbled and filled with gratitude for my community,” Dever said. “My campaign to serve on the WSESD School Board was a labor of love and you responded with an outpouring of support.”
“I have made so many new connections that I will carry with me as I begin my journey onto the Board. Among those that I cherish is my friendship with Peter ‘Fish’ Case,” she continued. “I did not know Peter before I came into this race and now I can think of no one that I would rather have standing next to me as an opponent turned friend.”
Dever noted her thanks to supporters and told those who did not vote for her, “I want you to know that you are my community, and I will work to earn your support.”
Incumbent board member Shaun Murphy of Guilford ran unopposed, keeping his three-year seat with 1,870 votes. The two Putney board members, Liz Adams and Anne Beekman, were not up for re-election this year.